SussexBaggie speaks...Norwich, Tamas and a selection headache

Last updated : 14 September 2011 By Site Editor

Sunday saw us pick up our first win of the season, as an early goal from Peter Odemwingie and a solid defensive display for the rest of the game helped us to a 1-0 victory at Carrow Road against Norwich City. 

Despite the fact we won the game, there were many supporters who were not happy with the manner in which we did so and, if anything, were more negative than they were after our opening two games of the season, which we lost!

Whilst I agree that we were certainly not at our best on Sunday, it was quite good in a way to see an Albion side grind out a victory. Our stand-out players were all defenders, but it was a hardworking performance from every player on the pitch to withstand the late pressure the home side put us under. 

In my opinion, our best performers were Jonas Olsson, Steven Reid and Youssouf Mulumbu, in that order. Olsson has been outstanding in every game so far this season, with his displays seeming to improve more and more with each game. It has been the same with Reid, who recovered from a shaky start against Manchester United to produce a solid display at Stamford Bridge against Chelsea and two faultless, committed performances in our games since then. Mulumbu has been his usual consistent self, covering every blade of grass and continuing to be one of our best performers in every game so far this season. 

A slap in the face

Unfortunately, the result has been somewhat overshadowed in the national media by an apparent elbow from Gabriel Tamas on Norwich City striker James Vaughan, which forced the former Everton striker to visit a plastic surgeon in order to receive treatment. There is no doubt that Tamas made contact with Vaughan, but it is impossible to say whether it was deliberate. From one angle, it looks as though Tamas caught Vaughan totally accidentally. However, from an almost birds-eye view, which has been shown in slow motion on Sky Sports News several times since Sunday, it looks as though Tamas checked where Vaughan was before elbowing him, which suggests that it may have been deliberate.

Tamas has since been handed a retrospective three-match ban from The FA, meaning that he will miss the Premier League games against Swansea City and Fulham, and the Carling Cup tie at Everton in between.

There has been a lot of debate about who can step in and fill the gap left by Tamas, who has formed a decent partnership with Olsson at the heart of our defence so far. Most people are assuming it will be Craig Dawson, as he seems to be very highly thought of by everyone at the club and was tipped by some people to start at Norwich on Sunday ahead of Tamas.

Selection issues

The other options available to Roy Hodgson are Gareth McAuley and Paul Scharner, although moving Scharner back into defence would leave a big gap in midfield alongside Mulumbu. 

With this in mind, I think Dawson would be the best option to play alongside Olsson while Tamas is suspended. He may be inexperienced, but the only way we are going to find out if he is good enough is by giving him an opportunity and hoping that he takes it.

A trip to another newly-promoted team in Swansea City is what awaits us this weekend. They have started the season fairly well performance-wise, but have only picked up two points and have yet to score a Premier League goal. Their attacking options include former Albion strikers Craig Beattie and Luke Moore, both of whom will probably be keen to get on the score sheet against one of their former clubs. 

However, you would like to think that the players will be a bit more confident after picking up our first win of the season at Norwich City, even though the performance was not brilliant.

If we continue to defend as we did at Carrow Road and just manage to keep the ball a bit better and attacking with some pace at the Liberty Stadium, hopefully we can get another positive result and begin to put a run of form together.

Do you think Dawson should start on Saturday against Swansea? Have your say at Baggies Banter here.